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A tale of two iPad weather apps

Mel Martin

Since Apple stripped the iPhone weather app from the iPad, it left the door open for 3rd parties to do their thing. They've done just that, and I'd like to spotlight two apps that come at weather from very different places.

We've looked briefly at both these apps. Our Victor Agreda Jr. used and liked WeatherBug Elite, and Erica Sadun took a quick look at Weather HD in April.

Let's start with WeatherBug Elite for iPad and look more closely. The app is free, and has a compelling display on the iPad screen. It is the more conventional app of the two, with radar and cloud cover overlays, animation, severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service, Extended 7 day and hourly forecasts, and webcams for most locations that show you a semi-live view of the current weather. You can save multiple locations, and get to them with a tap. As I do a lot of landscape photography, I really appreciate the infrared and visible satellite maps, that show you cloud cover down to the street level. The app works in portrait or landscape mode, and it can cache weather data for off-line viewing. I think this app is for serious weather consumers, and I have found it reliable and up to date. There are also versions for Windows and Macs, and an iPhone version. Strangely, the iPhone version sells for $0.99, while the iPad version is free. You can also get a free version for the iPhone, but it has ads.

Weather HD is 180 degrees from WeatherBug Elite. It is very pretty, and shows you animated scenes that reflect the current weather. Like WeatherBug, you can save several locations, and you get current conditions. The app was updated this week to offer a 7 day forecast instead of 4 days, and a forecast broken into three hour groups for the next 24 hours. The beauty of this app are the striking animations. They don't reflect real weather, but the app looks at the current data it has and reaches into its archive to bring out an appropriate scene. The rendering is smooth, and the views are quite striking. Weather HD is US$0.99, which seems a fair price. You can watch a video of the app at this link.

Weather HD is the app you will show your friends. WeatherBug Elite is the app you will use every day. Both have their place, and both are worth a look if you want to be on top of what's happening outside your window or across the world. There are many other weather apps for the iPad, but I like these two, as different as they are.

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